What are the Benefits and Risks of Water Chlorination?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Some people choose to drink bottled water out of fear of the potential dangers of chlorinated water.
Some people choose to drink bottled water out of fear of the potential dangers of chlorinated water.

Water chlorination is a process that is common in many municipalities today. Adding chlorine to the water is known to provide a number of benefits, including reducing the chance of people developing certain diseases as the result of water consumption. At the same time, there are some risks with ingesting water with chlorine added that has prompted some discussion regarding whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

There is currently no consensus regarding the degree of risk associated with water chlorination versus the benefits.
There is currently no consensus regarding the degree of risk associated with water chlorination versus the benefits.

One of the major benefits of water chlorination is that the process helps to prevent contamination of the water supply by various types of microorganisms. The presence of the chlorine does not interfere with the ability of the water to provide hydration needed, but does inhibit the presence of foreign organisms that could adversely affect the operation of different organs in the body. By adding chlorine to water as it passes through a municipal filtration plant, the cleansing action of the chlorine helps to prevent the spread of diseases due to waste or other products that are routinely dumped into sewer systems and the bodies of water that supply the city or town with water.

There are concerns about the role of chlorination in the development of colon cancer.
There are concerns about the role of chlorination in the development of colon cancer.

While no one contests the fact that water chlorination does aid in reducing the risk developing many different types of health ailments, there is also some concern that the presence of chlorine in the water supply may actually trigger health issues in certain situations. Since the latter part of the 20th century, concern about the role of chlorination in the development of colon and bladder cancer has emerged. At the same time, there is some evidence that people who are allergic to chlorine in general are likely to sustain some type of damage over the long term, possibly with some type of organ failure. There are also some concerns about the impact that water chlorination has on pregnancy, both in terms of causing stillbirths or birth defects.

There are some concerns about the potential effects of water chlorination during pregnancy.
There are some concerns about the potential effects of water chlorination during pregnancy.

At present, there is no consensus regarding the degree of risk associated with water chlorination versus the benefits. While some studies seem to indicate there are very real dangers associated with the use of chlorine to purify municipal water systems, detractors often point to what they consider discrepancies in either the group that served as the basis for the study, or the mechanics of the study itself. As the debate continues, some communities have begun to consider alternatives to water chlorination as the means of providing clean water to citizens, either as a means of completely eliminating the use of chlorine or at least reducing the level of use to a point that the chances for adverse effects are virtually eliminated while still providing some benefits.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including , and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon322153

It can be toxic.

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    • Some people choose to drink bottled water out of fear of the potential dangers of chlorinated water.
      Some people choose to drink bottled water out of fear of the potential dangers of chlorinated water.
    • There is currently no consensus regarding the degree of risk associated with water chlorination versus the benefits.
      There is currently no consensus regarding the degree of risk associated with water chlorination versus the benefits.
    • There are concerns about the role of chlorination in the development of colon cancer.
      There are concerns about the role of chlorination in the development of colon cancer.
    • There are some concerns about the potential effects of water chlorination during pregnancy.
      There are some concerns about the potential effects of water chlorination during pregnancy.
    • People who are allergic to chlorine are likely to sustain some type of organ failure.
      People who are allergic to chlorine are likely to sustain some type of organ failure.
    • Chlorine may help to remove disease-causing micro-organisms from water.
      Chlorine may help to remove disease-causing micro-organisms from water.